The wit and whimsy of Justin Moorhouse
I’m all for straight talking. I am firmly of the opinion that half of the problems of the world could be solved with brazen honesty. Not the type of “I speak my mind, I do” honesty that is usually a cover for rudeness, more the “let’s be honest with each other from the outset” kind.
This column every month allows me to do some straight talking. I’m very aware my monthly offerings in this column can often feel like I’m unleashing a barrage of whiny diatribe towards my family. That’s because it is, to be honest. I think this isn’t so much a bit of work for me, more therapy. I’ve enjoy the chance to say what I want without the eye-rolling and superior attitude from one of my children. That’s slightly unfair, most of the time my conversations go unanswered unless you count the heavy sigh, the swivel of foot and slam of the door as being a reply.
I’ve been a dad now for 21 years. It’s the single longest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s unpaid hard work if we are honest. Yeah, yeah, there’s all that unconditional love nonsense people tell you about, love that knows no impediment, an unshakeable bond between parent and child...i accept that, but I raise you with owning a Labrador. My dog Coco displays the same level of love, commitment and loyalty I strive for in my offspring, and she’s never answered me back.
If she had I’d probably not be bothering writing this column, me and her would probably be doing a show in Vegas. She’s never asked for a lift home at two in the morning, a tenner ‘just for some food’ or expected me to pack a lunch for her that on the surface appears appealing but has all the essential foods groups covered and is unlikely to be judged by lunch staff at school.
A friend of mine was accosted by what we used to call a dinner lady when I was a kid but now is probably called a nutrition supervision operative one day at his local supermarket. This NSO / DL was keen to check my mate wasn’t buying salt and sugarladen rubbish for his kids’ packed lunches. He said it was lucky she had caught him at the beginning of his shop as by the checkout his trolley would’ve been groaning with such illicit goods. Though for him, rather than his kids. He’s of the school of thought that whatever school lunches cost it’s good value compared to getting out of bed and trying to rustle up something interesting and nutritious.
His kids once asked for packed lunches, he took the opportunity to launch into an impassioned explanation about time management, letting the experts do the jobs they’re trained for, and if dad did make the lunches, it might be the tiniest difference that reduces the catering staff at school by one person. Did they really want to run the risk of someone losing their job just because they fancied a sandwich for lunch? Did they really want to be responsible for the cutting of a nutrition supervision operative? He’s quite the straight talker.
He’s the man who once had an incredible meeting with a domestic recycling officer. That’s right, a domestic recycling officer, that’s not a new name for a bin man in the spirit of renaming jobs like dinner lady – a bin man is now called waste management and disposal technician. No, this guy was from the council, and he was checking the domestic recycling in the area.
He knocked on my mate’s door, showed him identification and asked if he could look through his bins. My friend, while bemused couldn’t see any harm in letting him and left him to it. He returned a few moments later, clipboard in hand, pen checking things off a list. ‘Good, very good,’ he offers. ‘Thanks,’ my friend replies. ‘Yes, yes all seems to be great, except one tiny thing.’ ‘One tiny thing?’ ‘Yes, all is good, the paper is in the right bin, the glass is sorted correctly, just one little thing and I feel a bit pedantic saying this, but if you could just tear your teabags before you put them in the food recycling, it’d really help the breakdown process.’
My friend pauses, collects his thoughts, arranges his words to be straight talking enough and says: ‘Mate, China is building cities year upon year with populations larger than our entire country, do you honestly think me tearing my teabags will make the slightest bit of difference to the global climate change catastrophe that we’re heading towards?’
The domestic recycling officer replaced the lid on his pen, popped it in his pocket, and replied in a straighttalking fashion that my friend appreciated
‘Ahhh, that’s all well and good, but you see I don’t cover China, just Chorlton and parts of Whalley Range.’